Entrepreneurs Tackling Climate Change: “We can stop using single use plastics” With Wendy McArthur

The most practical thing people can do right away is stop using single use plastics. It’s really very easy once you get in the habit of it…

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The most practical thing people can do right away is stop using single use plastics. It’s really very easy once you get in the habit of it! I mean, humans made due for thousands of years before we ever had them. Governments can move to ban them and force everyone to make the change.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy McArthur, an entrepreneur who developed nOcean Straws, the world’s first wearable reusable straw. Her environmentally friendly product is not only practical and chic, but also helps to fight pollution and climate change.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always thought being environmentally aware was important. Last year, I had a baby girl and to be honest, leading a sustainable lifestyle became paramount. Being a mother really requires you to lead by example. I realized that her habits will form early, and our lifestyle and conversations needed to be green focused.

My husband and I are entrepreneurs at heart and we are always bouncing new ideas off each other and noticed straws were very problematic. nOcean was born from the feeling that products can be practical, reusable and help to make the world a better place.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

Our goal at nOcean is to bridge consumers current habits with sustainability. Our view on living an environmentally sustainable life is not to restrict but to adapt.

I was seeing companies like Starbucks removing straws, which is amazing to see, and I noticed resistance in reactions of consumers. We came up with nOcean to allows customers to still enjoy their habits, while reducing their environmental footprint.

Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each?

We are donating 50% of the profits from each sale to charities that are cleaning the ocean and helping to fight climate change. We’re working with companies like The Plastic Bank, a company that pays individuals to collect plastic and trade it for money items or service; this plastic is resold to manufacturers to use in products. Plastic is being removed from the Ocean and reused with a new product that would have otherwise been mined and extracted from the Earth.

What was the most difficult thing you faced when you first started your company/organization? Can you share how you overcame that. This might give insight to founders who face a similar situation.

The most difficult part of starting nOcean was trying to build awareness without diminishing margins. Advertising is expensive and our company wants to have enough to really make a difference when we give back. The internet has changed a lot in the last 5 years and while it used to be easier to spread ideas about something people like, now a lot of influencers and websites are just looking for paid posts. This has made it very challenging to spread the word. We always ask friends, family and current buyers to spread the word about nOcean. In addition, we are focusing our social media on influencers who want to see positive change.

Many people want to start a company to tackle environmental issues, but they face challenges when it comes to raising enough money to actually make it happen. Can you share how were you able to raise the funding necessary to start your organization? Do you have any advice?

We started our first business on Kickstarter and decided to launch nOcean the same way. Often friends and family can be overly positive about your ideas and you never really know if people will like your ideas until you put them out to the world. Also, new products require high upfront costs and having those initial funds is very helpful!

Do you think entrepreneurs/businesses can do a better job than governments to solve the climate change and global warming issues? Please explain why or why not.

They both have their strengths. Entrepreneurs can act a lot quicker that government entities, so they are needed for issues where urgency is needed. Governments usually take years to invoke change. Business can take an idea and run with them, not having to deal with layers of bureaucracy makes things quick.That being said, I’ve seen some great initiatives put in place by the government where we live that have had a huge impact. Our city, Vancouver, requires all households to compost and that has diverted an immense amount of waste from our landfills. Short answer, we all need to work together.

What are some practical things that both people and governments can do help you address the climate change and global warming problem?

The most practical thing people can do right away is stop using single use plastics. It’s really very easy once you get in the habit of it! I mean, humans made due for thousands of years before we ever had them. Governments can move to ban them and force everyone to make the change.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Wow, tough question. My husband Jerry is always thinking outside the box and the amount of positivity and enthusiasm out of that man is nothing short of spectacular. My biggest downfall is undervaluing my product or ideas. Jerry is always fearlessly, putting it all out there, excited for rejection or praise. I have learned from him and because of that, my fear of rejection has vanished. It is quintessential in a media ridden world of critique.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

● There’s almost no such thing as an overnight success. Companies, ideas and movements take time to build. When starting off it seems like no one is listening but as things start to build they gather momentum.

● Be prepared for long hours and missing events. We ended having to skip our honeymoon when our first company faced a cease and desist letter because someone else had a similar sounding name.

● Be prepared for extra expenses. There are so many small and large expenses involved in running a business. One time we had to get a new Visa card due to it being compromised and we couldn’t believe how many automated payments there were to replace.

● Things may not be perfect the first time. For us, there has already been at least 10 prototypes. I remember thinking that we would just make our first product and it would be perfect. Dozens of models later we were almost there!

● Ask for help! We’ve been constantly surprised by how much friends and family have helped us. One time we did an entire commercial shoot with our friends!

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the world, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We would love to see a nOcean bracelet on everyone’s wrist much like the LiveStrong bracelet was in the early 2000’s. When you saw someone wearing one you knew they cared about fighting cancer. When you see someone wearing a nOcean, you know they care about the planet.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

@nocean_straws on Instagram on Facebook

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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